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Israel Ready to Accept U.N. Proposal for Direct Talks with Syria

February 4, 1960
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel was reported ready today to accept a United Nations proposal for direct talks with Syria under UN auspices if the agenda was restricted to the topic of preventing further Syrian incursions into the demilitarized zone southeast of Lake Tiberias. The proposal was offered by Gen. Cari C. von Horn, chief of the UN Truce Supervision Organization.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the UN Syrian-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission said tonight that Syria had not as yet replied to an order issued yesterday by the Commission directing Syrian troops to pull out of the area on the Israel side of the demilitarized zone where military skirmishes have been going on for the last five days.

Following this announcement, Israel sources made it plain that they expected Gen. von Horn to use his maximum influence in support of the Commission’s order for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops.

United Nations sources indicated meanwhile that efforts were continuing to arrange the three-way meeting proposed by Gen. von Horn. It was reported that Israel officials had stressed, in their initial reply to the proposal, that the Syrians could have no standing on the status of the demilitarized zone and that Israel wanted assurance that in any such three-way meeting, that status would not be on the agenda.

Israel sources today estimated that the Syrian forces which returned to the village of Tawafik, in the demilitarized zone, were comprised of between 40 and 50 soldiers who have entrenched themselves in the rubble of the village.

The Syrians renewed in the early hours of the night their sporadic fire, directing it at an area near Beit Katzir, one of the Israel towns in the zone. The 20-minute burst of firing involved small arms, machineguns and a few mortars. No casualties were reported.

The shooting last night came after a relatively quiet day in the area although, according to Israel sources, five Syrian soldiers disguised as farmers crossed the drainage ditch separating Israel from Syrian fields and started ploughing in Israel soil. They were not challenged and soon returned to Tawafik.

The Israel Army spokesman exhibited to foreign press representatives some of the arms captured by Israel troops in the raid on Tawafik, which climaxed four days of Syrian firing. The weapons included some of the latest Soviet guns sent to the United Arab Republic. These included a fully-automatic Kalashnikov 20-round carbine and a Czech-made 82-mm, recoilless anti-tank gun, which were believed to have been shipped to the UAR since the 1956 Sinai campaign.

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